News

06/06/2024

Beacons, special events and new exhibitions mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day

  • Wenlock Priory, Beeston Castle, Carlisle Castle, Dover Castle, Kenilworth Castle and Pevensey Castle are hosting beacons

  • And events at Beeston, Dover, Kenilworth and Pevensey Castles, and Wenlock Priory will have community events bringing local people together for an evening of remembrance and celebration

Today, 6 June 2024, marks the 80th anniversary of Operation Overlord, also known as the D-Day landings in Normandy, France. 

The Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied France on 6 June 1944 – the start of the campaign to liberate north-western Europe and to help to bring about the end of the Second World War – remains the biggest seaborne invasion the world has ever seen.

This date changed the course of history. Across our English Heritage sites and online, we're telling stories of D-Day, helping to connect people with the events of 80 years ago.

Tonight at 9.45pm, beacons will be lit across the UK to celebrate the sacrifice of all those involved in D-Day.

Six of our sites are hosting beacons:

And five of these sites have community events taking place with civic partners to commemorate the anniversary.

These events at Beeston, Dover, Kenilworth and Pevensey Castles, and Wenlock Priory will bring local people together for an evening of remembrance and celebration.

Some will include school choirs singing WWII songs, war poetry readings, pipers and buglers, the D-Day proclamation reading and a two-minute silence ahead of the beacon lighting.

The D-Day was a massive operation to land almost 156,000 soldiers in heavily defended territory.

To give them the best possible chance of success, an elaborate web of deception had been spun for almost a year previously.

The supporting role Dover Castle's tunnels played in concealing the true location of the D-Day landings from the Germans is told in our immersive Secret Wartime Tunnels exhibition.

In addition, this week new interpretation at Kirkham Priory in North Yorkshire tells a lesser-known story of the role this site played in the preparations for D-Day.

On the river Derwent by the Priory, troops practised river crossings and trialled waterproofed vehicles in preparation for Operation Overlord.

Plus, at Battle Abbey a new exhibition, 'D-Day Connections', tells the personal and poignant stories of a handful of the thousands of men who passed through Battle Abbey, when it was used by the War Office during the Second World War.

Our dedicated team of research volunteers at Battle Abbey spent months tracing clues, such as graffiti still visible on the walls and liaising with regiments and military associations, to put a human face to the statistics and help give visitors a glimpse into the lives of some of the men who spent time at the site before fighting in the Normandy campaign.

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